Well, Its been a long time since I have written for Odyssey. In fact, Its been about a year. The reason I have returned to writing however, has much to do with the current state of my country. Now, I am someone who despises the political sludge that plagues my newsfeed, but I am also a human being, just like the rest of us, and so I do have some ideas about where we all stand. I believe that in truth, we are all wrong.
Naturally, in many arguments, perhaps all of them, someone is going to turn out to be right. However, this is not always the same someone time after time. For perspective, I just saw an interesting article on my Facebook feed. It was a story about some women who had the idea that in this time of disagreement, perhaps people would work better together if they shared meals. Of course, personal experience would tell me this idea is flawed, but why should it be? The answer lies in the hearts of the people. The comments on this story were outrageous. Liberals and Conservatives both saying essentially the same thing about the other side causing division, but never being willing to budge. Personal stories were thrown into the mix, detailing how regardless of which side they were on, they knew someone who thought differently, and thus there was simply no way to have a decent table conversation. I submit that this problem is due to immaturity and inability to understand more than one perspective. It is learning to understand the other side that brings me to my next point.
Clearly, we are in a bad place. We are divided along almost every imaginable line, with none of the sides willing to give any ground. The news, and I do not care which station you watch, because this applies to all, is an utter joke, doing nothing to inform the people. And why should it? We live in a golden age of information sharing. I can learn almost anything with a simple google search and a little reading. When the United States backed out of the Paris Climate Accord and the world lost its mind, I thought to myself "I really don't understand the situation. Lets see what I can find." Within an hour I had determined the main points of both sides, and then I read the entire agreement for myself (it is public information). Now, any opinion I have is based upon informed thoughts. This is a pattern I like to follow for most big news stories, because you will never get the truth from the media, and definitely not from a Facebook comment section. I would urge anyone who is forming an opinion on an issue to do their due diligence and become an informed citizen. The time you waste watching Fox, CNN, or MSNBC could far better be used gathering your own sources. Be cautious that the sources you find do not show large amounts of bias, and more importantly, that your sources accurately demonstrate both sides of an argument. In a church meeting I was in recently, we were actually discussing the importance of doing your own research in today's world, where misinformation is easily spread. One man mentioned that in trying to do research on the claim that 97 percent of scientists agree that climate change is real; he discovered that this was not true. He was correct. It is not. However, if he had done more research into the question he could have quickly learned that 97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is real, and therefore we are to understand that the most qualified people available are in a near perfect consensus.
I am not trying to fault this man from church. In fact, I praise his effort. His mistake is what brings me to my third point. When doing the research that will make you an informed person, be extremely cautious when you find exactly what you want to hear. Google does have a liberal search bias, but it is still lines of computer code. It will find what you ask it for. If you were to search "liberals lie about climate science" you will find articles telling you what this gentleman took to be true. The search would have been much better rendered as "what percentage of scientists agree that climate change is real". We must be very precise with our searches, and also just as thorough. If we put forth just a little more effort, we can see both sides of an argument, and thus become capable of informed opinions.
It would be easy to continue pointing out different ways to find what you need to find in researching a topic. I think though that it is better for every person to learn to do this for themselves. Research is a valuable skill to have. Information is an extremely valuable commodity. My final point is this. The politicians that run the United States are corrupt. They do not care for their citizens. They care for their lobbyists, and they care for their power. Where knowledge is power, they will do their best to keep that power from their people, in order to increase their own. And my, have they done a good job of making the American people ignorant. Fortunately, they cannot erase facts, free thoughts, and thoughtful discussion. And finally, if you ever find yourself in an argument, informed or otherwise, and it grows too heated and you think ill of your opponent, remember this quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: "Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness." This is how we should think in order to handle politics. In simple terms, the way that we should handle politics is by thinking. It is our most powerful weapon against tyranny, division, misery, and hatred. It is what sets us apart from all other creatures on the Earth. We should wield it well.